The History and Proceedings of the House of Commons: Volume 6, 1714-1727. Originally published by Chandler, London, 1742.
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SPEECHES and DEBATES In the Fourth Session of the First Parliament of King George I.
On the 11th of November the King came to the House of Peers, and the Commons attending, his Majesty deliver'd the following Speech into the Hands of the Lord Chancellor, who read the same to both Houses:
King's Speech at opening the Fourth Session.
Since your last Recess, I have, by the Blessing of Almighty God, concluded such Terms and Conditions of Peace and Alliance between the greatest Princes of Europe, as will, in all human Appearance, induce others to follow their Example, and make any Attempts to disturb the publick Tranquility not only dangerous but impracticable.
"These Engagements, I am persuaded, will be so much the more agreeable to all my good Subjects, as they bind the contracting Powers to support the Succession to these Kingdoms in my Family, to which some were not at all, and others not so fully, bound by any former Treaties.
"During the whole Course of these Negociations, a most strict Regard has been had to the Interest of Spain; and better Conditions have been stipulated for that King, than were insisted upon in his Behalf even at the Treaty of Utrecht; but the War in Hungary, which by our Mediation is since happily ended, having tempted the Court of Spain unjustly to attack the Emperor, and the Hopes they have since conceiv'd of raising Disturbances in Great Britain, France, and elsewhere, having encourag'd them to believe, that we should not be able to act in Pursuance of our Treaties, for the Defence of the Dominions invaded by them, nor even to support those other essential and necessary Conditions of the Treaty of Utrecht, which provide against the great Monarchies of Europe, being at any Time hereafter united under one Sovereign, they have not only persisted in such a notorious Violation of the publick Peace and Tranquility, but have rejected all our amicable Proposals, and have broke thro' their most solemn Engagements for the Security of our Commerce.
"To vindicate therefore the Faith of our former Treaties, as well as to maintain those which we lately made, and to protect and defend the Trade of my Subjects, which has in every Branch been violently and unjustly oppress'd, it became necessary for our Naval Forces to check their Progress. It was reasonable to hope, that the Success of our Arms, the repeated Offers of Friendship, which I have never ceas'd to make in the most pressing Manner, and the Measures taken in Concert with the Emperor and the most Christian King, to restore the publick Tranquility, would have produc'd a better Disposition in the Court of Spain; but I have receiv'd Informations, that instead of listening to our reasonable Terms of Accommodation, that Court has lately given Orders at all the Ports of Spain and of the West-Indies, to fit out Privateers, and to take our Ships.
I am persuaded that a British Parliament will enable me to resent such Treatment, as becomes us; and it is with Pleasure that I can assure you of the ready and friendly Resolutions of our good Brother the Regent of France, to concur and join with me in the most vigorous Measures.
"The firm Confidence I repose in the Affection of my People, together with my earnest Desire to ease them of every Charge not absolutely necessary, determin'd me, immediately after the Exchange of the Ratifications of our great Alliance, to make a very considerable Reduction of our Land-Forces; nor could I better express, than by so doing, how little we apprehend the Attempts of our Enemies to disturb the Peace of my Kingdoms, even tho' Spain should think fit to continue some Time in War. Our Naval Force imploy'd in Concert with our Allies, will, I trust in God, soon put a happy End to the Troubles which the ambitious Views of that Court have begun, and secure to my Subjects the Execution of the many Treaties in Force relating to our Commerce.
"I must desire you to grant me such Supplies, as will enable me to carry on the Service of the Year. I have given Orders to have the proper Estimates laid before you, whereby you will perceive I have reduc'd the Expence as much as our Circumstances can well admit. I have the Pleasure to observe to you, that the Funds appropriated for sinking the publick Debts, have answer'd above Expectation. I must however recommend to you to consider of proper Methods for improving them, by preventing the Frauds and Abuses daily committed in the publick Revenues, not doubting in all your Proceedings you will have that Regard to the inviolable Preservation of the publick Credit, which may quiet the Minds of all those that have trusted to Parliamentary Engagements.
"There never was a Time when your Unanimity, your Vigour, and Dispatch, were more necessary to so many good Ends, as those we have now in View. I have done my Part. It remains with you to give the last Finishing to this great Work. Our Friends and our Enemies, both at Home and Abroad, are waiting the Event of your Resolutions: And I dare promise my self that the first have nothing to apprehend, nor the others to hope, from your Conduct in this important Juncture, who have, during the whole Course of my Reign, given such lively Proofs of your Zeal and Affection to my Person, and of your Love to your Country."
Ld Hinchingbroke, moves for an Address of Thanks. ; Debate thereon.
The Commons being return'd to their House, Mr Craggs, by his Majesty's Command, presented to the House Copies, in Latin, of several Treaties, with a List of them; and the Title of the Copies of the said Treaties were read, and then the Lord Hinchingbroke mov'd, 'That an humble Address be presented to his Majesty, returning the Thanks of the House for his most gracious Speech from the Throne, and for the many and great Instances which he has therein given to his People, of his constant Endeavours for their Security and Welfare; That the House has intire Satisfaction in those Measures which his Majesty has already taken for strengthening the Protestant Succession, and establishing a lasting Tranquility in Europe; and particularly in relation to the Crown of Spain; and is resolv'd to enable his Majesty, in Concurrence with his Allies, not only to resent the Injuries that Crown has already done to the Commerce of these Kingdoms, in Breach of the Treaties subsisting between the two Nations, but will likewise support him, in the most vigorous and effectual Manner, in such farther Measures as his Majesty shall judge necessary to compleat the publick Tranquility, and to check the Growth of that Naval Power, which must otherwise prove dangerous to the Trade of these Kingdoms, and to the Repose of Europe.' The Lord Hinchingbroke was back'd by the Lord Tyrconnel, Sir David Dalrymple, Mr Lechmere, Mr Craggs, Mr John Smith, Sir Gilbert Heathcote, Sir Wilfrid Lawson, Mr Hampden, Mr Aislabie, Mr Boscawen, and Col. Bladen; but the Motion being oppos'd by Mr Freeman, Mr Heysham, Mr Walpole, Mr Snell, Mr Hungerford, Mr Herne, Sir Joseph Jekyll, Mr Cowper, Sir William Wyndham, Mr Shippen, Lord Molesworth, and General Ross, a warm Debate ensued.
The Country Party strenuously objected against the Words, entire Satisfaction in those Measures which his Majesty had already taken. In order therefore to have these Words left out of the Address, it was alledg'd in the first Place, That it was unparliamentary and unprecedented, on the first Day of a Session to enter upon Particulars; That the Business in Question being of the highest Importance, viz. Peace or War, deserv'd the maturest Deliberation; That before they approv'd of the Measures that had been taken, they ought to examine the Treaties, and the Reasons on which those Measures were founded, which must needs take up some Time; And therefore they ought, for the present, according to the usual Custom, to content themselves with returning his Majesty their Thanks for his Speech, with general Assurances of their Zeal and Affection for his Majesty's Person and Government, and then appoint a Day to take the said Speech into Consideration.
To this the Courtiers answer'd, That tho' all Applications from the House to the Throne differ'd according to the various Circumstances of Affairs, yet there were not wanting Precedents to support the Expressions excepted against, of which some Instances were produc'd: That the Measures that had been taken, were grounded on Treaties that had been laid before them, and which might be examin'd into as soon as the House thought fit; but that it was necessary, at this critical Juncture, when the Eyes of all Europe were fix'd on this Parliament, early to come to a vigorous Resolution, which would not fail having its due Weight Abroad.
This was warmly oppos'd by Mr R. Walpole, who urg'd, 'That it was against the common Rules of Prudence, and the Methods of proceeding in that House, to approve a Thing before they knew what it was: That he was thoroughly convinc'd of, and as ready as any Person in that Assembly, to acknowledge his Majesty's great Care for the general Peace of Europe, and the Interest of Great Britain; but that the giving Sanction, in the Manner propos'd, to the late Measures, could have no other View, than to skreen Ministers, who were conscious of having done something amiss, and, who having begun a War against Spain, would now make it the Parliament's War: Concluding, That instead of an entire Satisfaction, they ought to shew their entire Dissatisfaction with a Conduct that was contrary to the Laws of Nations, and a Breach of solemn Treaties.' Upon this Mr Craggs gave the House an Account of the Measures which the King and his Ministers had pursued for restoring and securing the Tranquility of Europe, and said, 'That upon that View a Treaty of defensive Alliance between his Majesty and the Emperor had been sign'd in May 1716, and by that very Gentleman, then in a high Station, who now excepted against these Measures: That, at the same Time, his Majesty sincerely desir'd and endeavour'd to maintain a perfect Friendship with the King of Spain, and had even propos'd a defensive Alliance to him, before he made one with any other Power: That notwithstanding the Engagements his Majesty was under to guaranty the Neutrality of Italy, and to defend the Emperor in the Possession of his Dominions, which, upon the Invasion of Sardinia, might have justify'd his Majesty's assisting his Imperial Majesty against Spain; yet the King chose rather to act as a friendly Mediator, and, in Concert with the Regent of France, endeavour'd to find out Means of reconciling the Interests of the Emperor and of the King of Spain, as the only Way to put a Stop to the War that threaten'd Italy, and in which all Europe might be involv'd: That the Catholick King was often sollicited by the British Ministers at Madrid, to conour with his Majesty's good Intentions, and to give such Instructions to the Spanish Minister here, as would put it in his Majesty's Power to stand up for the Interest and Advantages of Spain in the ensuing Negotiations: That the Catholick King having declin'd to concert Measures with Great Britain, and demanding, in general, Satisfaction for the Breaches he pretended the Emperor had made upon the Treaty of Utrecht, the Balance of Power in Europe, and the Security and Liberty of the Princes and States of Italy, all that his Majesty, with the Regent's Assistance, could do, was to obtain of the Emperor such Conditions as were thought most agreeable to his Catholick Majesty; to wit, an absolute Renunciation of the Monarchy of Spain and the Indies, and a very considerable Settlement in Italy for a Prince of Spain, particularly the Great Duchy of Tuscany: That as the Emperor's Pretensions to Sicily were the principal Reasons of his opposing the Treaty of Utrecht, from which he could not afterwards be brought off by the Treaty of Baden, it became necessary, towards an Accommodation, to dispose of that Island in Favour of his Imperial Majesty, of whom, upon that Consideration, his Majesty and the Regent of France obtain'd the Disposition of Sardinia in Favour of the King of Sicily: That these were the principal Articles of the Treaty of Alliance, for restoring and settling the Publick Peace, commonly call'd the Quadruple Alliance, which was a long while depending, and at last sign'd here, on the 22d of July, 1718: That in Order to support the Views of this Treaty, and to add Weight to the Endeavours for restoring the Tranquility of Europe, his Majesty acquainted the Commons, toward the End of the last Session of Parliament, that he intended to employ a Naval Force when it should be necessary; whereupon this House unanimously resolv'd to return his Majesty their Thanks for his unwearied Endeavours to promote the Welfare of his Kingdoms, and to preserve the Tranquility of Europe; and to assure his Majesty, that they would make good such Exceedings of Men for the Sea Service for the Year 1718, as his Majesty, in his Royal Wisdom, should find necessary to obtain those desirable Ends: [See p. 180.] That this unanimous Resolution undoubtedly imply'd an entire Satisfaction in the Measures his Majesty was at that Time concerting for preserving the Tranquility of Europe; and if an Action has since happen'd in Consequence of those Measures, this cannot, with any Justice, be call'd the War of the Ministers, but rather the War of the Parliament: That, however, it was not with Design of making War, but only of restoring Peace, that his Majesty sent a strong Squadron into the Mediterranean: That, pursuant to this View, as soon as Sir George Byng reach'd the Coast of Spain, he wrote a Letter to that King, desiring him to accept his Majesty's Mediation, and to desist from the Hostilities already begun; offering him his Service, either to withdraw his Troops, or even to assist him, in case the Emperor should not consent to a Suspension of Arms; which the Admiral proposed while an Accommodation should be negotiated: That the Spaniard, having with Haughtiness rejected his Majesty's repeated amicable Proposals, and not only persisted in the Violation of the publick Peace, by the Invasion of Sicily, but likewise broke thro' most solemn Treaties for the Security of our Trade, it became necessary for his Majesty's Naval Forces to check these insolent and violent Proceedings, as well to maintain the Faith of his Majesty's Engagements, and prevent the Consequences of this War, as to protect and defend the Trade of the British Subjects, which labours under the heaviest Hardships and Difficulties.' To confirm this last Assertion, Col. Bladen produc'd a List of many Merchant Ships, taken or detain'd by the Spaniards.
Mr R. Walpole having made solemn Professions of his Duty and Affection to the King, and of his Readiness to acknowledge his Majesty's Royal Care and constant Endeavours for the Security and Welfare of his People, and the Tranquility of Europe; but distinguishing between his Majesty and his Ministers, and shewing an Unwillingness to approve the Measures pursued by the latter, 'till the Treaties on which those Measures were founded, had been fully and maturely examin'd, Mr Craggs readily admitted of the Distinction between the King and his Ministers, adding, 'That he observ'd with a great deal of Pleasure, how unanimous they were all for the King, and that he should be extremely sorry if the Ministers should be the Occasion of any Delay in the House's expressing their Duty and Affection to his Majesty: That he own'd Ministers were not infallible; That he had the Honour to be one of his Majesty's Servants, and had gone as great Lengths as any in the Measures that had been taken: But that he was so positive, that in the Course of this whole Affair nothing had been done that was not entirely consistent with the Faith of Treaties, and the Honour and Interest of the Nation, that he durst promise, both for himself and the rest of the Ministers, that if the House came into this Vote, which he thought of the highest Importance at this critical Juncture, no manner of Advantage would be taken of it to palliate any Faults, which, through human Frailty, might have been committed; and that for his own Part he was ready to undergo the severest Examination, whenever the House should think fit to enquire into the Conduct of the Ministry.'
The Address agreed to and presented.
Nov. 12. The Commons having made the usual Orders; the Lord Hinchingbroke reported the Address from the Committee of which his Lordship was Chairman; which on the 13th was presented to his Majesty, as follows.
We your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal Subjects, the Commons of Great Britain in Parliament assembled, do return our most sincere and unfeigned Thanks to your Sacred Majesty for your most gracious Speech from the Throne, and for the many and great Instances, which you have been graciously pleas'd therein to give your People, of your constant Endeavours for their Security and Welfare.
It is with the greatest Pleasure that we have this Opportunity to assure your Majesty, that we have entire Satisfaction in those Measures which you have already taken, for strengthening the Protestant Succession to the Crown of these Realms in your own Family, and for establishing a lasting Tranquility in Europe, and particularly in relation to the Crown of Spain, and we are resolv'd on our Parts, to the utmost of our Power, to enable your Majesty, in Concurrence with your Allies, not only to resent the Injuries which that Crown has already done to the Commerce of these Kingdoms, in Breach of the Treaties subsisting between the two Nations, but will likewise support your Majesty, in the most vigorous and effectual Manner, in such farther Measures as in your great Wisdom you shall judge necessary to compleat the publick Tranquility, and to check the Growth of that naval Power, which must otherwise prove dangerous to the Trade of these Kingdoms, and the Repose of Europe.
We should be wanting in our Duty to your Majesty, if we did not express, in the most affectionate Manner, the great Sense we have of that Instance of your tender Concern for the Ease of your People, in the farther Reduction which you have made of your Land-Forces; which must be accepted by all your good Subjects, as the strongest Proof of your Wisdom and Goodness.
We crave Leave to concur with your sacred Majesty, that Regard must always be had to the inviolable Preservation of the publick Credit, for the Quiet and just Security of all those who have trusted to Parliamentary Engagements.
And do farther assure your Majesty, That we will, by our Conduct in this important Juncture, give your Majesty and the whole World, all imaginable Proofs of our Zeal and inviolable Duty and Affection to your Person and Government, and of our Love to our Country.
The King's Answer thereto.
"I Am extreamly sensible of the Duty and Affection you express to my Person: Your Vigour and Resolution to support me will encourage our Friends, and, by the Blessing of God, enable me to defeat the ill-grounded Hopes of our Enemies: As I am persuaded the Necessity and Usefulness of your Proceedings will be approv'd by the Event, I do return you my very hearty Thanks for this loyal Address."
Mr Boscawen acqualnts the House with the King's having declar'd War against Spain. ; Mr Trely's Motion for an Address of Thanks. ; Debate thereon. The above Address agreed to.
Dec. 17. Mr Boscawen, by the King's Command, acquainted the House, That all his Majesty's Endeavours and those of the most Christian King, to procure Redress of the many Injuries done to the Subjects of Great Britain by the King of Spain, to the unspeakable Detriment of the Trade of these Kingdoms; or even to obtain a Discontinuance of the unjust Hostilities carrying on by that Crown, having prov'd ineffectual, his Majesty had found it necessary to declare War against Spain. After the reading of this Message, Mr Treby (fn. 1), mov'd, 'That an humble Address be presented to his Majesty, to return his Majesty the most unfeigned Thanks of the House for having communicated to them the necessary Resolution of declaring War against Spain; and to assure his Majesty, That this House will, with the greatest Chearfulness and with the utmost Vigour, assist and support his Majesty in the War with the King of Spain, 'till Spain is reduc'd to accept of reasonable Terms of Peace, and to agree to such Conditions of Trade and Commerce, as this Nation is justly intitled to by their several Treaties.' Mr Treby was seconded by Mr Western, Member for Sudbury, but Mr Shippen, Mr Freeman, Sir Thomas Hanmer, and some others excepted either against the Motion or against some Expressions in it, which occasion'd a warm Debate. Some Members alledging, 'That they did not see the Necessity of declaring War against Spain, and that they rather were inclin'd to believe that the Grievances complain'd of by our Merchants might have been redress'd in an amicable Manner', Colonel Stanhope, Member for Derby, told the House, that he had had the Honour to serve his Majesty as his Envoy to the King of Spain, and he could assure them, that he had presented at least five and twenty Memorials to that Court, in relation to the Complaints of our Merchants, without any Success. Hereupon Mr Methuen, Member for Brackley, interpos'd, and accounted for the Dilatoriness of the Court of Madrid in the Dispatch of Commercial Affairs, occasion'd by the different Regulations and Judicatories in the several Kingdoms, Provinces, and Ports of Spain; which might be the Reason why the Grievances complain'd of by our Traders had not been redress'd so soon as might have been expected. A Member having hinted that the Ministers had shewn no great Concern for the Trade and Interest of the Nation, since it appear'd by the Answer from a Secretary of State to the Marquess de Monteleone's Letter, that they would have pass'd by the Violations of the Treaties of Commerce, provided Spain had accepted the Terms of the Quadruple Alliance: That his Majesty did not seek to aggrandize himself by any new Acquisition, but was rather inclin'd to sacrifice something of his own, to procure the general Quiet and Tranquility: That no Body could yet tell how far that Sacrifice was to extend, but certainly it was a very uncommon Piece of Condescension; Mr Shippen went yet farther, and insinuated, That this War seem'd to be calculated for another Meridian. [See p. 157.] But wrapt up the Innuendo so dextrously, that no Exception was taken at it. Mr Horatio Walpole also found Fault with the Treaty of Quadruple Alliance, particularly as to the Disposition of Sicily in Favour of the Emperor, which was a Breach of the Treaty of Utrecht; and his Brother Mr Robert Walpole, exclaim'd against the Injustice of attacking the Spanish Fleet before the Declaration of War. They were answer'd by Mr Craggs, Mr Lechmere, Mr Aislable, Mr T. Broderick, and Sir Joseph Jekyll; which last said, 'That some Weeks before, when this Affair was first mention'd in the House, he was shy of giving his Opinion, because he had not then examin'd the several Steps that had been taken in it; but that now he was fully convinc'd, that if there was any Injustice, it was on the Side of the King of Spain; and that the Conduct of his Majesty and his Ministers was entirely agreeable to the Law of Nations and the Rules of Justice and Equity. Was it just, added he, in the King of Spain to attack the Emperor's Dominions [meaning Sardinia] while he was engag'd in a War with the Turks, without any Declaration of War? Was it just in the same Prince to invade the Dominions of one of our Allies, the King of Sicily, without the least Provocation? And was it not just in his Majesty to vindicate the Faith of his Treaties, and to defend and protect the Trade of his Subjects, which had been violently oppress'd? Then the Question being put upon Mr Treby's Motion, the same was carry'd in the Affirmaive by 178 against 107; and it was resolv'd, That the said Resolution be laid before his Majesty, by the whole House; which being done accordingly his Majesty gave the following Answer.
The King's Answer.
A Bill from the Lords, For strengthening the Protestant Interest.
Dec. 24. The engross'd Bill from the Lords, intitled, An Act for strengthening the Protestant Interest in these Kingdoms, was brought down to the Commons, who read it the first Time, and order'd it to be read a second Time, on the 7th of January, to which Day the House then adjourn'd.
Debate on the second Reading thereof.
Jan. 7. The Commons read a second Time the engross'd Bill from the Lords, intitled, An Act for Strengthening the Protestant Interest in these Kingdoms: And then so much of the Act, Against Occasional Conformity, as was intended to be repeal'd by the said Bill, as also of the Act, To prevent the Growth of Schism, &c. both which were pass'd in the 12th Year of the late Queen Anne, were read. After which, upon a Motion made to commit the said Bill, there arose a very warm Debate, that lasted above eight Hours. Mr Hampden spoke first in Behalf of the Bill, and was seconded by Mr Cartwright (fn. 2), Member for Bossiney. The other Members who spoke for the committing of the Bill, were Mr J. Chetwynd (fn. 3), Member for St Maws, Sir Tho. Palmer, Member for Rochester, Mr Yonge, Mr Carter, Sir William Thompson, Mr Boscawen, Mr Barrington Shute, Sir William Lowther, Member for Pontefract, Sir Joseph Jekyll, Sir Gilbert Heathcote, Mr Craggs, Mr Lechmere, and the Lord Castlecomer. Against the committing of the Bill. Mr Graham, Member for Westmoreland, Mr Ward, Member for Thetford, Mr Richard Hopton, Member for Herefordshire, Col. Strangeways, Member for Dorsetshire, Mr Blundel, Member for Haslemere, Sir William Wyndham, Mr Jefferies, Mr Shippen, Mr Horatio Walpole, Sir Tho. Hanmer, Mr John Smith, Mr Snell, Mr Robert Walpole, and Mr Lutwyche, Member for Apulby.
Sir W. Thompson.
Sir William Thompson urg'd, 'That the Schism Bill depriv'd Parents of their natural Right of educating their Children as they think proper; to which Mr Shippen answer'd, 'That it was somewhat strange to see so able a Lawyer inconsistent with himself: For when the twelve Judges were consulted, in a Case relating to a great Family, [The Prince of Wales's Children] he was of the Opinion of ten of them, 'That Children may be taken from their Parents, and educated as the Good of the Nation requir'd.' To this Sir William Thompson reply'd, 'That as he never was consulted, so had he never declar'd his Thoughts in the nice Case hinted by that Gentleman, and therefore he could not, with any Colour of Justice, be said to have chang'd his Opinion: But that the Member who tax'd him with it, and who thereby declar'd against the Opinion of the ten Judges, if he would be consistent with himself, must now be for the Bill that repeals the Schism Act, which restores Parents to their natural Right.' After some personal Altercations between Mr R. Walpole and Mr Lechmere, the Question being put upon the Motion for committing the Bill, it was carry'd in the Affirmative by 243 Votes against 202, and the Bill was committed to a Committee of the whole House.
An exact List of the Names of all those who voted Pro and Con, in this important Debate, will be found in the APPENDIX, by which it appears that the Majority was chiefly owing to the Scots Members, 31 out of 35, then in the House, having voted for the Bill.
Jan. 9. The Order of the Day being read for the going into a Committee of the whole House upon the Bill from the Lords, For strengthening the Protestant Interest, &c. the Lord Guernsey mov'd, 'That it be an Instruction to the said Committee, that they have Power to receive a Clause, That any Person when he comes to take the Oath of Abjuration and other Oaths, subsequent to the receiving the Sacrament, in order to his Qualification, shall acknowledge that the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament were given by Divine Inspiration, and shall acknowledge his firm Faith and Belief in the Ever-blessed Trinity: But the previous Question being put, that the Question be now put upon the said Motion, it pass'd in the Negative, by 90 Voices; several Members who voted against the Bill, For strengthening the Protestant Interest, &c. having, notwithstanding their Opposition to that Bill, voted also against the Amendment proposed by Lord Guernsey; as the Reader will find particularly distinguish'd in the abovemention'd List. Then the House resolv'd itself into a grand Committee upon the said Bill, went through the same, Mr. Hampden being Chairman, and resolved to pass it without any Amendment, by a Majority of 221 Votes against 170.
The Bill For strengthening the Protestant Interest passes the House.
An Address presented to the King, for an Account of Pensions granted to Members since May 10, 1715.
February 11. Upon a Motion made by Mr Snell, and seconded by Mr Shippen, it was resolv'd to present an Address to his Majesty, That he would be pleas'd to give Directions to the proper Officers to lay before the House an Account of what Pensions, if any, have been granted by his Majesty to any Member of this House during Pleasure, or for any Term of Years; and also what Warrants for beneficial Grants have been directed to the Lords of the Treasury since the 10th of May, 1715.
March 10. The King went to the House of Peers, and the Commons attending, he was pleased to say, That he had given Orders to the Lord Chancellor to declare to both Houses, in his Name and Words, a Matter his Majesty thought of the greatest Importance; whereupon the Lord Chancellor read the following Speech:
King's Speech relating to an invation from Spain.
HAVING receiv'd from our good Brother and Ally, the Most Christian King, repeated Advices, that an Invasion will suddenly be attempted from Spain against my Dominions, in Favour of the Pretender to my Crown, I have judg'd it convenient to make you acquainted with it, and shall, on my Part, take all the necessary Measures to defeat the Designs of our Enemies.
This Attempt, if it proceed, must engage me in some farther Expences by Sea and Land than Provision has been made for. I must therefore recommend it to you that I be enabled, in such Manner as you shall judge convenient, to make the necessary Dispositions for our Security; and you may depend upon it, that I shall upon this and all Occasions have as much Regard to the Ease of my People, as shall be consistent with their Safety.
"The many Proofs I have had of the Affection and Loyalty of this Parliament leave me no Room to doubt of your steady and vigorous Perseverance, in Support of my Person and Government upon this Occasion."
Motion for an Address of Thanks. ; Debate thereon. Mr W— ; The Address resolv'd on, and laid before the King.
The Commons being return'd to their House, it was mov'd, 'That an humble Address be presented to his Majesty, to return him the dutiful and unfeigned Thanks of this House for having graciously communicated to his Parliament, that he has receiv'd Intelligence of an Invasion intended from Spain against these Kingdoms; and to assure his Majesty that this House will support him with the utmost Vigour and Efforts to defeat so extraordinary an Attempt: And to desire that his Majesty would give the necessary Orders to strengthen and augment his Forces by Sea and Land, in such Manner as he, in his great Wisdom, shall think fit; assuring his Majesty that this House will effectually make good any Increase of Expence that shall arise from such an Augmentation, and effectually enable his Majesty not only to disappoint the Designs of his Enemies, both at Home and Abroad, but by the Blessing of God turn them to their own Confusion.' None of the Members did directly oppose this Motion, only Mr W— took this Opportunity to find Fault with the Administration; particularly with Respect to the sending a Fleet into the Mediterranean, whilst Great Britain was left naked, and expos'd to the Insults of a provok'd Enemy Abroad. He also reflected on some Steps, whereby the Discontents had been much encreas'd at Home; and, among others, took notice of a Bill lately brought into the House of Lords, [meaning an Act for settling the Peerage of Great Britain] which could not fail making most of the Scots Peers implacable Enemies.' He added, 'That tho' he could not forbear blaming the Conduct of the Ministers in some Particulars, yet he still retain'd the same Thoughts with Respect to his Majesty, and would readily concur with the House, in giving him the most hearty Proofs of their Zeal and Affection for his Majesty's Person and Government; and even go so far as to give his Vote for suspending the Habeas Corpus Act, in Case of Necessity; but that, in his Opinion, it became the Wisdom of that House, to know whether the Advices his Majesty had receiv'd of an intended Invasion, were well grounded, before they either alarm'd the Publick, or engag'd the Nation in needless Expences.' This Speech was answer'd by Mr Craggs, who said, 'That as to what has been suggested about the Peerage Bill, that Affair being yet depending in the other House, it was unparliamentary to take Notice of it, before it came regularly before them: But that however, he would before-hand venture to say, That as it was a most gracious Condescension in his Majesty, to suffer a Branch of his Royal Prerogative to be restrain'd, in order to secure the Liberty of Parliaments, so he doubted not, that when that Bill came down to them, it would be unanimously approv'd. That as to the Advices the King had communicated to his Parliament of the Invasion with which his Dominions were threaten'd, tho' it was unusual for the Sovereign to declare his Intelligence, yet his Majesty had been most graciously pleas'd to tell them from whence he receiv'd his Information. That therefore it would be want of Respect, to question his Majesty's Intelligence; and he was sure no Member of that House had Authority to do it. That he hop'd there was no great Danger from the Invasion with which they were threaten'd: but that it would be the highest Piece of Imprudence not to take all the necessary Precautions to repel any Insults from the Spaniards, and to defeat all the Designs of his Majesty's and the Nation's Enemies, both at Home and Abroad. And as to the Conduct of his Majesty's Ministers, on which that Member [Mr W—] was pleas'd to reflect, if a Motion were made for appointing a Day to inquire into the same, he would readily second it.' After this, the Motion, for an Address to his Majesty pass'd into an unanimous Resolution, and without losing Time in drawing it up in Form, it was farther resolv'd, That the said Resolution be laid before his Majesty by the whole House; which being done accordingly the next Day, the King return'd this, Answer.
His Majesty's Answer thereto.
I Take this Address as a fresh Instance of that Duty and Affection which you have so often express'd for my Person and Government. I trust in God it will enable me to defeat the Designs of our Enemies, and to provide effectually for what is dearest to me, the Security and Welfare of my People.
Mr Freeman's Motion for adjourning the Call of the House.
April 14. Upon reading the Order of the Day for the House to be call'd over, Mr Freeman made a Speech importing, 'That some Weeks before, he thought it necessary that the absent Members should be summon'd to attend the Service of the House, in order to oppose some dangerous Alterations [meaning the Peerage Bill then depending in the House of Lords] which were intended to be made; and that he observ'd, with a great deal of Satisfaction, that the Summons had not been ineffectual, since there was so great, and so unusual an Appearance of Members; which shew'd that all true Patriots were resolv'd to exert their Zeal and Efforts in Defence of our excellent Constitution: But that he hoped, that by this Time the Danger was pretty well over, and that the Contrivers of that Project began already to repent it; that therefore he thought it unnecessary to give the Members the Trouble of calling over the House; and since they had dispatch'd all the publick Business that lay before them, they had best adjourn themselves to the 17th.' Accordingly the Call of the House was adjourn'd to that Day; to which Time likewise the House adjourn'd themselves.
April 18. The King came to the House of Peers, and the Commons attending, his Majesty gave the Royal Assent to several Bills; after which the Lord Chancellor read his Majesty's Speech to both Houses as follows, viz.
King's Speech at putting an End to the Fourth Session.
I Am now come to put an End to this Session, in which you have shewn many great and seasonable Proofs of your Duty and Affection to my Person and Government, and of your Care for the Safety and Welfare of your Fellow-Subjects.
"We perceive by the rash and wicked Counsels which have lately prevail'd in the Court of Spain, that the desperate and extravagant Projects of one ambitious Man, though not capable of giving Fears to their Neighbours, may occasion to them some Expence and Trouble.
That Court being influenc'd by Counsels odious and destructive to the Spaniards, who find themselves neglected and oppress'd, after having endeavour'd to foment Conspiracies and Seditions both here and in France, and stoop'd to Practices unusual, accompanied by Manifestoes, of a Style unheard of among great Princes, has at last proceeded to acknowledge the Pretender.
It is our Happiness, at this Juncture, to find ourselves assisted by the greatest Powers of Europe, against an Enemy that has no Allies, but those who would betray the Governments under which they live and are protected.
"I thank you very heartily for the Supplies you have granted me this Year. The Manner in which you have rais'd them without any new Burden to my People, the great Addition you have made to the Fund for sinking the Debts of the Nation, the Discharge of the Exchequer Bills, and the Provision you have made to pay whatever remains justly due to Foreign States and Princes, are the strongest Proofs of your Wisdom, as well as of your Zeal for my Service, and the Good of your Country. You may observe I have hitherto been very cautious of making Use of the Power you have given me, to increase our Forces by Sea and Land. If our Enemies should oblige me to a greater Expence, it shall be employ'd for your Service. This is what the Trust you repose in me requires at my Hands, and what I owe to so dutiful and affectionate a House of Commons.
"There being nothing more desirable at all Times than a firm Union between Protestants, I reflect with Satisfaction upon the Law you have pass'd this Session, which will, I hope, prove effectual to that Purpose. As it is a signal Instance of Moderation and Indulgence in our establish'd Church, so I hope it will beget such a Return of Gratitude from all dissenting Protestants, as will greatly tend to her Honour and Security, both which I shall ever have near at Heart.
"I have always look'd upon the Glory of a Sovereign and the Liberty of the Subject as inseparable; and I think it is the peculiar Happiness of a British King to reign over a free People. As the Civil Rights therefore and Privileges of all my Subjects, and especially of my two Houses of Parliament, do justly claim my most tender Concern, if any Provision design'd to perpetuate these Blessings to your Posterity remains imperfect, for want of Time, during this Session, maturely to discuss and settle Matters of so great Importance, I promise myself you will take the first Opportunity to render my Wishes for your Happiness compleat and effectual, and to strengthen the Union, which is of so much Consequence to the Welfare of this Kingdom.
"If the Circumstances of my Affairs shall allow of my going Abroad this Summer, I shall take the same Care of your Interest as if I remain'd here. The many Negotiations which will be on Foot to restore the Peace of the North, in which the Trade and Tranquility of this Kingdom may be very much concern'd, will make my Presence there of great Use to those my Dominions: And as in that Case I design, by the Blessing of God, to meet you early next Winter, I will only recommend to you most earnestly, that, laying aside all Animosities, you would, in your several Countries and Stations, use your utmost Endeavours to preserve the publick Peace, and see a due Execution of the Law."